Baltimore County

Outlook

September 05, 2000

Hereford's Todd Leitzel is no longer the Bulls' fastest man.

No, for the first time in his four seasons as a starter, the defensive back-running back has got competition as the Bulls try to win their fourth Baltimore County 1A-2A League crown in the past five seasons with what its coaching staff calls "more speed than ever."

But where the Bulls have dominated small-school competition recently, this year could be the one during which rising programs at Catonsville and Western Tech keep chase.

The Randallstown Rams, on the other hand, look to be the class of the Baltimore County 3A-4A League, coming off their second straight state semifinal berth. They return eight offensive starters and another five on defense, the latter being the domain of two-time All-Metro linebacker Mykle Bouie.

In the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's A Conference, Loyola coach Joe Brune will be playing catch-up with Gilman and Mount St. Joseph.

Brune earned career win No. 200 last season with a year-ending victory over MIAA A rival Calvert Hall in their annual Thanksgiving Day game.

The Dons have a good chance to improve on last year's record as Brune, 66, enters his 33rd year as the Baltimore City/County area's dean of coaches.

In MIAA B Conference action, three-time defending champ McDonogh graduated All-Metros T. C. Cosby (linebacker) and Eric King (running back-defensive back) and probably does not have as much depth as it did in 1999.

But the Eagles have plenty of size, beginning with second-team all-city/county kicker-punter-quarterback Joe Benson, who stands 6 feet 6 and weighs nearly 200 pounds, and two-way lineman Kellan Williams (6-4, 245).

Among the Eagles' stiffest challengers will be St. Paul's, which had won 19 straight games, including two MIAA B Conference crowns, before McDonogh began dominating the league three years ago.

Back to Hereford in the public school's 1A-2A league. Coach Steve Turnbaugh will miss two-time All-Metro linemen C. J. Feldheim (Maryland) and Adam Hendrix (Delaware), in addition to some 12 or so other starters who graduated.

But linebacker Ray Causey, lineman Chris Parker (6-4, 280), and quarterback Austin Page (6-0, 185) are veterans who should blend nicely with the talent up from a JV program that went undefeated.

Wide receiver Matt Simms (6-0, 200), running back Billy Wright (5-10, 236), Bret Wehnart (6-0, 260) and running back-kicker Mike Rostek (6-0, 200) are among the newcomers who have excelled like veterans.

Hereford's chief competition should come from the other end of the county in Catonsville, from two programs that are barely separated by a one-minute drive.

Both Catonsville and Western Tech went 8-2 last season and return loads of talent.

Catonsville has a backfield that includes Chris Wilson (6-2, 245) and Josh Desmond (6-1, 217), who will run behind Chris Freeman (6-0, 265), Jon Dowdle (6-0, 245), tight end P. J. Schaffer (5-10, 205), center Kyle Holden (6-0, 225) and guard Ryan Donovan (6-2, 215).

"The biggest strength is our offensive line," said coach Warren Como, who also has Bobby Wissman and Kyle Ford, who weigh 265 and 220, respectively, among his offensive linemen.

Catonsville's kicker-wide receiver, Jeff Graves, a 6-2, 170-pounder who runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, is among the nation's best punters according to Rivals100 recruiting service.

Graves will be complemented by receivers such as Chris Washington and indoor track sprinter Jerrell Ward, while linebacker Craig Ripple (6-3, 225) leads the defense.

Western Tech's Dominique Foxworth is the Baltimore area's most highly sought-after player, having clocked the fastest 40-yard dash times in three different summer camps.

The senior is among eight offensive starters who return and nine who are back on defense to a team that lost only to Hereford and Catonsville.

The Wolverines' All-Metro receiver Joe Cromwell, now at James Madison, has not left a void: Receivers Zack Oleszczuk (6-1, 190) and Julian Brandon will do nicely in his place.

Anchoring things on the other side of the ball for the Wolverines are defensive end Adam Terrell (6-2, 246), linebackers Ryan Heaney and Ian Gosnell and defensive tackles Lloyd Miller (6-1, 315) and David Ferguson (6-0, 255).

Other programs in the 1A-2A League, such as Lansdowne, Overlea, Pikesville and Towson should be interesting to watch.

Second-team all-city/county receiver Clement Sorgho, a 6-4, 190-pound all-city/county basketball player, leads Pikesville, which went 7-3 and earned its first playoff berth in school history.

Overlea's first-year coach R. J. Windows has replaced retired Terry Ward (168-116-2 career) and feels he can equal or even surpass last year's 6-4 finish.

Lansdowne should improve on last season's 2-8 record, as coach Ted Bell returns six offensive starters, seven on defense and looks to take advantage of even more talent up from a 7-2 JV.

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